Exposing the dirty money behind fake climate science

Feature story - March 30, 2010
Billionaire tycoon David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is, "The biggest company you’ve never heard of". But the nearly US$50 million that he and his brother Charles quietly funnelled to front groups which deny that climate change is a problem is no joking matter. Our new report shows how that cash, between 1997 and 2008, went to groups working to prevent action being taken against climate change.

Wanted for crimes against the climate: Charles and David Koch.

It's now crystal clear - and every journalist, scientist and politician needs to know - that denial of climate change is not something based on healthy scientific scepticism and debate: it is manufactured and bears the "Koch" brand.

To put their financial commitment into context, from 2005-2008 the Koch brothers pumped in double the amount that even Exxon spent on undermining climate action over the same period.

If you thought Exxon was bad, take a look at these guys:

Charles and David have a vested interest in preventing climate action: they’ve made billions from Koch Industries, an oil and manufacturing giant that is the second largest privately-held company in America with tentacles extending around the globe. It’s time more people were aware of the brothers Koch and just what they’re up to.

The Greenpeace report “Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” reveals the connections between the Koch family, their employees, and a global network of ‘front groups’ engaged in trying to sabotage climate science.

Download the whole report as a PDF to check out how the Kochs use their cash to block solutions to climate change. The interactive version shows who Koch money is going to, and has more information on how it is used to muddy the debate and prevent climate action.

Key front groups take Koch cash and do their dirty work

From 1997 to 2008, the Kochs funnelled more than US$48.5 million to organisations aligned with the Kochs' agenda, while presenting themselves as ‘experts’. If you were outraged that ExxonMobil spent US$24 million in the same period, then these guys should make you twice as mad.

Some top recipients of Koch money include:

  • Mercatus Center - 
$9,247,500 received from Koch foundations 2005-2008 [Total Koch foundation grants 1997-2008: $9,874,500]

The Mercatus Center is a conservative think-tank at George Mason University, in which Charles Koch sits on the Board of Directors.
  • Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP) - 
$5,176,500 received from Koch foundations 2005-2008. 

Beginning in 2008, Americans For Prosperity organised fake 'grassroots' local events across the US including the "Hot Air Tour”, featuring a hot air balloon, that was intended to build opposition to US legislation on clean energy and climate change.
  • The Heritage Foundation - US$1,620,000 received from Koch foundations 2005-2008 [Total Koch foundation grants 1997-2008: US$3,358,000].
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank that misinterprets science and policy regarding the climate and uses its conclusions to argue against action against climate change.
  • Cato Institute
- US$1,028,400 received from Koch foundations 2005-2008 [Total Koch foundation grants 1997-2008: US$5,278,400].
The Cato Institute focuses on disputing the science behind global warming and questioning the rationale for taking action.

How does Koch Industries influence the climate debate?

Last year, a Koch-funded study claimed that renewable energy in Spain had led to the country losing jobs. This is simply not true and the report was thoroughly discredited. Flawed though the study was, it was used in efforts to influence US politicians against taking climate action.

Our Koch report also features case studies on how the Kochs' anti-climate propaganda is spread and echoed throughout a vast network of front groups. You can read all this in the report.

And you thought they were the good guys...

When you realise what Charles and David Koch are involved in, a visit to the Koch Industries website suddenly seems like a trip to fairyland.

Take the "Koch Sustainability Vision". "We create value by using resources more efficiently; protecting the environment and the safety and health of our workers and others; consistently applying good science...". Interesting reference to "good science", given the tens of millions they have pumped into precisely the opposite.

Then there's the matter of corporate responsibility on which Charles Koch is quoted: "For business to survive and prosper, it must create real long-term value in society through principled behaviour". That doesn't really cut it either.

Koch Industries has also trade marked the slogan "Transforming Daily Life". Now that's something we can't fault them on: unbridled climate change is pretty certain to change the world as we know it.

Let the world know exactly who the Kochs are, and unmask the 'experts' who take their money to write reports that undermine action to save the planet.

Take Action

Tell the Koch brothers to stop financing climate destruction: give a call to a Koch company near you.

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